Country in dire need of a national leader - Prof. Wijesuriya | Sunday Observer

Country in dire need of a national leader - Prof. Wijesuriya

  A section of the monks in the audience. Pix: Hirantha Gunathilaks
A section of the monks in the audience. Pix: Hirantha Gunathilaks

“If all are angels there is no need for constitutional law. The idea behind this statement is obvious that, humans are not angels. Angels are seen as incapable of doing any wrong, but to err is human. It is common among people to conduct themselves for their personal benefit and self gain.

“Power to rule creates a concentration of power that is too big to be captured at one point or on one person. Therefore, it’s natural for people who come into power to get carried away with it to the point of insanity. Therefore, rulers of a country as much as its people should be governed by the law. To create a ruler above the law is to create political insanity. A ruler who will stand above the law will breach it.”

Prof. Sarath Wijesuriya selected the above quote from a book authored by Director of the Asian Human Rights Commission, senior Attorney-at-Law Basil Fernando which aptly elaborates the need to emphasis that no ruler is above the law.

“Today we see a lack of laws to govern the governor,” he told guests at the ‘Yathindra Pooja’ ceremony at the BMICH recently.

Prof. Wijesuriya said that past experience has shown us that any leader who comes into power starts thinking that the country as his family property and acts in that manner, the country will never thrive or develop.

Speaking at length of the dream shared by the 2015 Movement led by Sobitha Thera, he said that it is time that the people of this country rally together for a national leader who will have the country’s interest at heart.

“This is the time that we need thousands of Sobitha Theras,” he said, calling for the guidance of the monks and other religious leaders calling on them to take the lead in cultivating a political and cultural landscape that will put the country first before anything else.

Touching upon the executive presidency, he reiterated Sobitha Thera’s campaign to rid the country of it and said, “I am standing before you as a representative of the just society professed by the late Ven. Maduluwawe Sobitha Thera. During the last period of Sobitha Thera’s life he hoped to convert this country and society to one that was governed based on its laws.

“He always said that this country was governed by its laws and that the country’s culture and values disappeared with the promulgation of the 1978 Constitution. He always said that it was at that point that destruction of all focal points began.

At the seventieth birthday of the Thera a program was held at the BMICH where he said that he will dedicate the rest of his life to remove the executive presidency from the system,” the Professor said.

Making a humble request before the Maha Sangha at the event, he asked them to leave aside party politics and guide the nation to build a government based on the law of the nation in reverence to Sobitha Thera and for the country’s well-being.

“The contribution of the Maha Sangha to build the cultural and social lives is immense. This has been so throughout and historical writings of monks such as Ven. Yakkaduwe Thera and Ven. Kotahena Pangngakitti Thera it is obvious that the Bhikkhus were always placed above politicians,” he said. He said it was the duty of all religious leaders to salvage the country from the depths it has fallen into. “That responsibility falls on every law abiding citizen of this country too,” he said.

He also highlighted the importance of upholding the rule of law, which according to him was more important than the physical development of a country, and was paramount for its sustenance.

“A majority of those who engage in politics are only interested to be in power for their own personal benefit. They have, by their conduct, violated the basic teachings of not only Buddhism but of all religions. Most of our politicians are impious. Our leaders have efficaciously introduced laws for their own benefit but not for the benefit of the country,” he said, calling on all religious leaders to reject politicians who have direct or indirect links to killing, misusing public property or drugs.

In 2015, Sobitha thera said the main reason for the lawlessness in the country at that time was due to the executive presidency. His comments are valid and applicable to date as much it did then.

“It is true that since this government came into power no extra judicial killings have taken place. But they have failed to bring justice to the people who were victimised by such crimes. Failing to uphold the law and safeguarding criminals by misusing the law re-establishes the crime culture. What we should understand is that by failing to bring the people behind such acts before the law, crimes are only temporarily halted,” he said.

For an individual to hold two passports and two identity cards is a crime under the law but a child who comes to this world under Yahapalanaya will learn that Yahapalanaya is where politicians who commit such offences are not punished.

The professor said he was disappointed by the Government’s failure to bring the culprits behind the poor conduct of Parliament during the political crisis last October before the law.

“We saw the most barbaric incidents where chilli powder was thrown at the Speaker while he was conducting business in the house. People’s representatives acted as if they were hooligans. Do they have any moral right to make laws to govern us?,” he queried.

Reminding us that the failure to hold these culprits accountable will only set a bad precedent where offenders are protected.

He said that the country is currently is in dire need of a national leader, a leader who will think of the future of the country. The responsibility of a leader should be to strengthen and uphold democracy. Merely electing representatives through an election will not ensure democratic rule.

Speaker Karu Jayasuriya who also addressed the event, said that he believed a glorious Sri Lanka could be created again.

“The pride of place accorded to gentlemanly politics is a source of consolation to me and I wish the country’s political culture would undergo a change to protect such healthy developments.

“These are salient features in developing democracies. We feel happy that the flames of communalism could be doused due to the efforts of an all party committee for the sake of national and religious reconciliation. This is an inspiration to me in my last lap in life.

“I am leaving this premises today with the determination that we too shall contribute to the tremendous efforts being made by the religious leadership to put a derailed society back on the right track.

“Had we chosen the right path, there could have been a more prosperous society. Today we are paying for sacrificing long-term aspirations for the sake of short-term gains. The Buddhist, Hindu, Christian and Muslim religious leadership could enlighten the current political leadership on ushering in a new era to be free of trials and tribulations.

“Today Mother Lanka has been left in the lurch by some of her recalcitrant children. She has been exploited but not nourished. This, I reiterate to remind the future generations of their prime responsibilities.

Most Ven. Vendaruwe Upali Nayaka Thera of the Asgiriya Chapter, Siyam Maha Nikaya said, “The Buddha accorded the right man, the right place. Speaker Karu Jayaruriya always acts with equanimity. We see him taking the path of D.S. Senanayake and Dudley Senanayake, which is a rare phenomenon today. His forte is social service.”

Ven. Aggamaha Panditha Kotugoda Dhammawasa Maha Nayake Thera of the Sri Lanka Amarapura Nikaya wished that Speaker Karu Jayasuriya receives the support of the people to serve the country as long as he could.

Most Ven. Napana Premasiri Maha Nayake Thera of the Sri Lanka Ramanna Maha Nikaya said, “We invoke the blessings of the Noble Triple Gem on all those who are assembled here for this important purpose.”